Trumbull – Dear Captains of Industry in the Post-War World (1) – The London Red Cross – November 21, 1943

This is the first half of a rather lengthy letter from Grandpa with many quotes from other letters he has received and some well-meaning fatherly advice. This post contains an interesting account of an American Red Cross Club outside of London and Dan’s thoughts about it.

Trumbull, Conn., Nov. 21, 1943

Dear Captains of Industry in

the Post-War World:

Well, the newlyweds are one week older today, and from all reports they started off in double harness in grand style. I know this from a night letter received early Monday morning. In spite of this most important happening in their own lives they still found time to send this message to the ancestral homestead: “Sorry you could not be here. We are in San Francisco and are leaving for Camp Santa Anita tomorrow. The wedding went beautifully and everyone is nice. Details following. Love to all” signed Marian and Lad.

This was followed a few days later by an announcement that Mr. and Mrs. Mowry A. Irwin announce the marriage of their daughter Marian to Mr. Alfred P. Guion, Army of the United States, on Sunday, the 14th of November, 1943 at Berkeley, California.

And that’s the story to date of the latest launching on the sea of matrimony. The port authorities at Trumbull are looking forward to the day when they will drop another in the harbor here. All hands will be piped on deck, the flag will be dipped, the big guns will fire their salute, the brass band will get into action, and a good time will be had by all. Speed the day! It can’t happen too soon for us.

Evidence keeps piling up that Lad, as usual, is showing rare good judgment, in his choice of a lifetime partner, this time. It has been my privilege to receive this week one of the nicest letters any father-in-law could receive from his son’s mother-in-law. (Incidentally, the stock mother-in-law jokes will have to retire in confusion in this instance). First her thoughtfulness in writing and the sensible understanding tone of her letter are revealed by her first two paragraphs: “Because you couldn’t be present to share in the happiness of Marian and Al on Sunday, but feeling sure that you would be interested, I’m taking the privilege of writing you. They can tell you about the wedding which I’m sure is just what they wanted — simple, happy and friendly, but with dignity, solemnity and beauty which I feel should accompany any marriage. Quite naturally, Mr. Irwin and I would have liked to become acquainted with your son before he walked down the aisle with our daughter as his wife. In normal times it would have been managed; but at present it was well nigh impossible. Really, I can honestly say to you that I retired Sunday night feeling absolutely sure that Marian was safe with the man of her choice. I had no qualms or worries whatever as to his treatment of her. Can any mother say more?” The letter follows with some intimate glimpses from a mother’s knowledge of her daughter and ends: “If any of you boys happen to be in our vicinity we’d enjoy having them get in touch with us, and we hope some time to have the pleasure of meeting you.” Aunt Betty summed it up by saying: “Evidently they are a very nice family!” Amen to that, Lad, and I’ll also be willing to bet Mrs. Irwin will never have cause to change her feelings towards you. And now, of course, we will be looking forward to letters from you or Marian or both telling us all about the main bout. I assume you couldn’t arrange time for even a short honeymoon, but that only means you will have that to look forward to.

A letter from Aunt Dorothy says Helen and Ted are coming north for a brief stay. Anne is staying with Dot and her mother temporarily, until Anne’s furniture arrives from Staunton. She has leased an apartment just a few blocks from Dorothy’s. Mother keeps pretty well but has her off days now and then.

Dave, by the way, received his notice to go to Shelton Tuesday for his physical exam.

Another interesting letter from Dan, and rather, as Shakespeare remarks, “to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue onto the rainbow, or with taper-light to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish” I will simply quote: “Because it occupies such a prominent position in my mind today I am dedicating this letter to the American Red Cross. The clubs in London have been a catalyst to every “G. I.” who has come to London wanting to get the most out of his visit. Maps, accommodations, education, information, entertainment, all are the daily diet of the A. R. C. Considerable prejudice has been built up in the minds of most of us against the Red Cross for alleged acts of dubious character during the last war — selling cigarettes, stationary, etc., which had been donated for free distribution — so it has been quite a pleasant revelation to learn how unfair such a prejudice has become. I am not familiar with administrational set up over here. Apparently only a few of the workers are Americans. These few are regional Directors, generally men. But the majority of workers, paid or volunteer, are British women who do all in their power to help us in every way. They are a composite Travelers aid, shopping guide, nursemaid, companion (in a moral sense, of course!), entertainer, tour conductor, Encyclopedia, Dorothy Dix and hostess, all at the “beck and call” of any “G. I.” uniform. Rooms and meals are available at minimum charge. But nicest of all, a new A. R. C. Club has just been opened quite near the place in which we are stationed. It is rather different in atmosphere from the downtown London clubs — more like an exclusive U. S. O. Club in that there are no overnight facilities to attract the “Grand Central terminal” crowd that prevails in the regular London clubs (coming and going at all hours of the day and night, unkempt from travel — gas mask and musette bag drooping from weary shoulders as they “queue up” for lodgings. This local A. R. C. is housed in a building built by Christopher Wren for Queen Anne early in the 18th century. It is built on the site of an old palace, which causes it fairly to reek of atmosphere and tradition, despite the modern comforts that have been added for its present function. There is an open fireplace in virtually every room; library music room, dining room, information desk, all contribute notably to our comfort indoors, while spacious lawns, secluded bowers, gardens and aged walls lend an aura of romantic antiquity to the grounds around it. Glimpses of barges and boats can be caught through the trees that line the further edge of the lawn past which a river flows. By fortunate coincidence I am able to take advantage of this club during the daylight hours all this week because I have begun working on a “shift” job which changes hours periodically. The work I am doing is new and interesting, particularly by contrast to the stagnation I have been exposed to for such a long time.” Thanks Dan, for that masterly letter. I have an idea it will be read by a wider range of folks than those in the immediate neighborhood.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the second half of the letter with some well thought out advice from Grandpa to his sons, scattered around the world.

Judy Guion

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The Beginning (43) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – Smoking and Other Shenanigans

These are the memories of my Father and his siblings, recorded over several years. When my Uncle Dan passed away, I realized that I had better get started recording the memories of Dan’s siblings before they were also gone. I was able to have two recording sessions with my Father, Lad in California; two with Uncle Ced in New Hampshire, a three-day cruise in our boat with Aunt Biss; one session with Uncle Dave in Stratford, CT and one hand-written session (I forgot my tape recorder going up to the Island in New Hampshire, where Uncle Dick lived) with Uncle Dick. I transcribed them once exactly as they were spoken, again removing the ums, ahs, half sentences started over, etc. I then produced a final copy that was easier to read, but it still needs work getting the chronological order correct. Memories are not recorded with a date stamp. I created 75 binders for family members which include all three translations, pages and pages of photos and memorabilia and the actual recording. Now family members can actually heat their ancestors speaking. It was my first project with all the material my Father saved for me and a true Labor of Love. I hope you enjoy these memories of A Slice of Life at a different time and place. 

Trap Door on the Barn

 

The Maple Tree on the left with the Summer Porch to the left of the house

It was called the Summer Porch because the Maple Tree provided lots of shade and there was always a breeze there 

CED: – At the Trumbull House, one of the things we used to do, one of the high points, had to do with the little trap door over the barn.  We would open the door, tie a rope to the beam at the top of the barn, run it down and tie it to the big Maple outside beside the Summer Terrace.  We used to have a wheel on it, it would go out the door and hang from the wheel.  We’d slide all the way down and get off by the Maple tree.  A pretty fast ride, too.

Possible location of the tree and swing going “almost over the road”.

We had a swing on the upper end of the property, near the stone pillars.  We would take hold of the rope, take a run and then swing out almost over the road.  Don Stanley fell off it and broke his arm.  His father never really forgave us.

LAD – I don’t remember much about any trouble I got into.  Dick and Ced used to get into trouble.  Mother would get a call from the police, or Constable, as they were called at the time.  What their problems were I don’t remember, but they did get into trouble … Mother had to go get them a few times.

Long before we moved to Trumbull, there was a dam on the Pequonnock River, flooding all the property where the stone house is now, right up to the cemetery.  There was a mill there, run by water which came down through a tunnel.  The tunnel was about three feet by three feet and it came out of a sheer wall.  It was probably a drop of eight or ten feet to the ground.  We kids used to play there quite often; we had a lot of imagination.

I don’t know if Mother smoked as a youngster, but she must have been smoking then because I think I took two of her cigarettes.  Art Christie and I went up and crawled through the tunnel and sat at the edge with our legs hanging over the edge and smoked cigarettes.  Who should come along but Mom!  She crawled through the tunnel and gave us quite a lecture.  It was probably a few years before I started smoking, but Mom smoked with me when I first started.  Then she quit, but I didn’t.

CED – We smoked corn silk and cigarettes here and there.  Art Christie was the oldest, your father (Lad) was next, then Dan and me, the four of us.  I like to presume, and it’s probably true, that Art Christie got the idea.  I guess my Mother wasn’t home.  I don’t know how we did it or how we got to it; but anyway, we got money out of Mother’s pocketbook.  We went to Kurtz is – Mother smoked – most of her sisters smoked – of course in those days you didn’t think anything about it.  Anyway, we went to Kurtz’s and said we were buying some cigarettes for our Mother.  We bought a pack of cigarettes, I don’t remember the brand.  Right about where the cemetery gate was, there was a carriage road.  There was a fence at the end, and a field beyond, which was probably Harold Beech’s field.  But right at the gate there had been, at one time, a mill.  They had dammed up the Pequonnock River; they had a dam there, probably four feet high and four feet wide.  They had a big stone wall that pretty much went all the way to the cemetery.  Near that wall, there was a big, square hole, I guess that’s where they had the mill wheel, but that space was a perfect place to go to smoke cigarettes.  We sat at the front of that square and we started smoking.  We had a whole pack of cigarettes and we wanted to enjoy them.  Well we were merrily smoking away and Dan said, “I think I’ll go home.”  He got right up and left.  We suspected that he was getting sick, he was.  Art and Lad and I hoped he wasn’t going to make a fuss.  I guess we talked about it and decided it was time to stop smoking, so we did.  We thought maybe we ought to go down to the brook, pick up some poles and pretend to be fishing in case Mother came looking for us.  So we did.  We went down to the brook and were playing along the side of the brook, and pretending we were fishing.  I don’t know if we could have made that stick, but anyway, sure enough, about ten, fifteen or twenty minutes later, here comes Mother and gulp, gulp, gulp.  She came up to us and said, “What are you doing?”  “Uh, we’re fishing,” we answered.  “Well”, she replied, “Dan tells me you were smoking.”  What could we do?  “You know your father and I both smoke”, she said.  “I don’t like it that you boys smoke, but why don’t you just come home and smoke if you want to smoke.”  Not one of us wanted to smoke again until we were eighteen or twenty.  Not one of us.  Now, if that isn’t  psychology, good psychology … Without even being punished.

For the rest of the week I will be posting more Childhood Memories of Trumbull.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Friends, Roamers and Countrymen (2) – From Jackson to a French Coastal City – September 10, 1944

 

Marian Irwin

Marian Dunlap Irwin

And now some late news from Marian. “Practically a week since I’ve been here in the fair city of Jackson – – and high time that I got a letter written to you. On the last day of our trip we had tire trouble – – not too bad, really, and considering the roads we went over I’m surprised we didn’t have more. One of the trailer tires went out and we had to use the spare for the car, but as it was the last day of the trip I didn’t mind too much – – I was sure we could limp in for the last hundred miles and we did. We stopped by the Camp to see if we could reach the fellows by phone to tell them we had arrived safely, and while I was waiting in the Provost Marshal’s office for the message to be put through, the fellows arrived at the gate ready to go out for the evening. We really timed that meeting well and Lad, wonderful person that he is, had already found a place for me to stay, so I didn’t have any house hunting problems the very first night. We are looking now, however, for an apartment, but they are few and far between. I have plenty of time during the day, however, and if the weather were just a little cooler it would help a lot. It is awfully hot and very humid and the nights don’t cool it off at all. There are thundershowers quite frequently and they help a little. Lad’s present training set-up consists of night classes – – he is to do part of the instructing – – so I might be able to see him just on weekends. I’m waiting to see what Lad’s hours are going to be before I look for a job. It will help if I have something to do and also keep my mind off the foul weather. Two letters from Ced last week – – one written in March which failed to reach us at Pomona. He mentions a package we were supposed to have received, which we are tracing.

Daniel Beck Guion

And another letter from La France. “It is early morning in a coastal town, and I am sitting by a window of a second rate hotel near the waterfront. A dismal rain accentuates the drab grayness of the narrow street – four stories down. Most of the windows up and down the street are still shuttered tight from last night but slowly the place is becoming alive. Across the way, the door of a stenographer’s school is opened. One of the American soldiers greets the young lady who has appeared by saying, “Bon jour” in rather bad French. The girl looks up and smiles. “Cigarettes?” questions the soldier, holding up a package for her to see. She nods, still smiling. He tosses the package down. It lands in the street in front of the door. She runs out, picks it up, says “Thank you” in equally poor English, waves goodbye and disappears into the building. A few men pass by dressed in faded blue trousers and shirts, wearing dark blue berets. They are on their way to work – – perhaps to work for the Americans who have recently arrived. They seem quite oblivious of the rain as they pause in front of a shop to exchange a few words with the proprietor who is loitering in his doorway beneath a bedraggled French flag. A few more shutters are thrown open and I can see a woman shaking out the blankets of her bed. Down the street in the direction of the docks is a hotel with a gaping hole which reveals a mass of charred beams, rubble and a bed half hanging over the edge of the remaining foundation. The destruction has been wrought perhaps by the blowing up of the harbor installations, but more probably, by an American bomb before Jerry pulled out. Back up the street the woman has finished making the bed and is standing just inside the window fixing her hair. There is electricity in town but many of the houses must wait until the wires are repaired before they can have lights again. I hear above the drizzle of the rain a sudden splash on the pavement. Someone up the street has emptied a basin of water out of the window. All this I have just seen in the rain. But yesterday noon it was quite different – – the soldiers were forming a “chow” line; the street was alive with khaki, the rattling of mess kits, the voices of many children who played or watched nearby or even canvassed the line for “souvenirs”, bonbons, chewing gum, insignia, pocket knives, etc. A small girl stood near the rinsing pan, insistent that each passing soldier should permit her to dip his mess kit into the hot water and hopeful, of course, that she would be rewarded occasionally. Older folks stood in doorways looking on with amused tolerance.”

Dan         And that’s all this week. DAD

Tomorrow, a Birthday Poem written by Grandpa. Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Halloween Pranksters (2) – News From Dan and Lad – October 31, 1943

This is the second half of a letter written by Grandpa to his four sons scattered all over the place.

page 2   10/31/43

The next letter in chronological order is from Dan. He starts out by saying it seems like his lot to miss the most interesting parts of the air raids — he has not yet even heard a piece of flak fall. “But the other day I witnessed another type of “warfare”. Two men and two ferrets were exterminating a rabbit colony in Wimbledon common. For the occasion the men were dressed in riding habits complete with black “Bowler” hats. They were armed with several nets and two ferrets — these animals look like white rats with a long wheel base. The nets were staked down over all the entrances and exits of the rabbit colony. Then the ferrets were given the signal to advance. Down the holes they went. Minutes passed. Suddenly one of the nets bounced up in the air with a flurry of brown fur. One of the men sprang toward it and seized it in his hands. Deftly he extricated a rabbit from the meshes, broke its neck and thrust the limp form into a sack. Soon a ferret reappeared and was promptly introduced into another hole. A questioning of the pseudo-nimrods revealed the following facts. Ferrets are raised by breeders who “bring out the beast in them” to be most effective in flushing rabbits. Finished products cost from 15 “bob” (shillings) to L 1. Naughty ferrets sometimes bite the hand that picks it up. Other undisciplined characters commit mayhem on its victims underground, leaving the exasperated hunter tapping his foot impatiently for an hour or two while the ferrets enjoys a subterranean banquet (or as one of the salacious Yanks suggested, the ferrets having heard of the reputation of rabbits, as he approaches his victim, “Put out or get out, rabbit!” thus explaining the long delay). Ferrets, while not on active duty, consume chicken heads or bread and milk, better results being obtained by the chicken heads. I learned later that the practice of ferreting is illegal, but, what with the scarcity of meat, officials are prone to overlook infractions of this law.

Lad’s letter is dated October 25th. He writes that he and Marian (spelled with an “a”) are to be married at the ”Little Chapel of the Flowers” in Berkeley on the afternoon of November 14th. He will, of course, wear his uniform. A Presbyterian minister of Marian’s choice will tie the knot. Lad is trying to secure a 7-day leave but thinks it will more likely be a 3-day pass. Financially, with their combined income and a budget, they expect to get by in good shape (at the time Lad wrote he had not received my letter telling him his Venezuelan Petroleum stock, which I had bought in 1940 for $75, skyrocketed, so that it is now worth $1100. Ain’t that sumpin’?)

To complete the record, I may as well give you Dick’s address, but if you don’t have any better luck hearing from him than I do, it won’t be much use writing him with any hope of a reply.

As Lad’s wedding date draws near, I have to fight a rising desire to throw caution to the wind and depart for Berkeley. It would mean closing the office (which, in the present circumstances, would mean going out of business permanently), leaving Aunt Betty with the entire burden of shopping, cooking, etc., to say nothing of the difficulties of civilian travel these days (and of course, the cost). So I’ll let my brain rule my heart and stay home.

DAD

Tomorrw, more Venezuelan Red Tape for Lad’s Voyage to Venezuela.

On Sunday, more about Marian’s ancestors, the Lewis, Rider and Irwin families.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Members of the General Staff (2) – Notes to Dan, Lad and Marian and Ced – October 24, 1943

This is the second half of Grandpa’s weekly letter as Lad and Marian’s wedding draws nearer.

And as for you, Dan, old thing, you are not the only one that sends birthday greetings tardily. It was only yesterday that a homely brown box left on its way to merry England, via APO New York. How soon it will reach you is one of the mysteries of life, but let’s hope it will reach you before Christmas. If it speaks to you, if anything could, of the love and respect and esteem and high hopes the sender enclosed with it, it will have accomplished it’s purpose.

     Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Lad, to you and Marian both, these letters to you henceforth will be intended. In fact, if you have been in circumstances where any

of my former letters have been preserved, might I suggest Marian, (if she cares to), read them with the thought in this manner of becoming somewhat acquainted with your newly to be acquired Dad. I do not share the feeling I know some folks do, that letters are highly personal and are not to be shared with other than the party receiving them. I have no quarrel with those that do feel this way, but, except where really personal and confidential thoughts are put on paper, I like to share the news, if any, with those interested. So, Marian, your interesting letter received this week has been enjoyed not only by me but by  Aunt Betty and Dave and Jean. It will be interesting to see if all my boys wives get along together as well as my boys do among themselves. Perhaps this is too much to expect, this is not to be taken as a disparaging remark about my daughters-in-law, so much as it is the realization that few brothers, to my knowledge and observation, got along so cordially as my five boys with their entirely differing personalities.

Ced Guion

Ced and Lad: I don’t recall whether in my last letter I mentioned that I had come across a very interesting book on the theory of airplane mechanics put out by General Motors which I thought you would like to look over. Anyway, I have asked that a copy be sent you so, if and when it comes, you will know why. It did not seem the sort of thing that would interest Dick, in spite of the fact that this is the branch of service in which he serves, but if I am wrong, just let me know, Dick, old boy. Maybe this will serve as an excuse for writing me one of those rare epistles you occasionally favor us with.

Ced, the other day a tall chap with a mustache came into the office with the job for us to do. He is with a Bridgeport undertaker and asked if I were your father. He said he had been to high school with you and asked me to remember him to you when I wrote. His name is Ed Bachman. Does one ask if business is good under the circumstances?

I haven’t yet had time to hear from any of you since I sent along the news of Lad’s latest attack on the Citadel of a maiden’s heart. No matter where he goes he seems to attract the ladies. Soon after reaching Venezuela, he was chased by a reckless cow and now in California Cupid pierces him with a dart. I declare, he ain’t safe nowhere. With this bit of philosophy I had better bring this weekly Chronicle to a close. Happy Halloween to you all.

DAD

Tomorrow Lad’s writes to tell Grandpa a bit about his intended bride.On Thursday and Friday, another letter from Grandpa with all the “news that fit to print”.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Members of the General Staff (1) – Grandpa’s Birthday – October 24, 1943

 

Today and tomorrow’s letter is filled with the weekly minutiae of daily life on the Home Front. Just Grandpa keeping his boys informed of the usual and unusual happenings in and around Trumbull and the Old Homestead.

Trumbull Conn.

October 24th, 1943

Dear Members of the General Staff:

While you war lords plan we’re next to axe the Axis, we of the WPA at home go about our job of raking leaves, sawing wood, etc., looking to the day when you come home, medals glittering on your manly breasts, and demand the various freedoms which you have fought so valiantly to achieve. Meanwhile, as the seasons roll around, I miss you each in a practical sense. Right now for instance, the wood sawing and chopping sure goes very much more slowly than it did when you axe wielders were around. Today, some of the eight and 10 foot lengths of Locust that were split and piled up on the west side of the barn, yielded grudgingly to my comparative puny efforts. I have let the leaf raking slide entirely, as being of less import than other more essential jobs, but soon must tackle the storm windows. Sunday is the only full day I have to do anything around the house, and that is spoiled by having to spend most of the morning getting dinner. For a while, when Grandma was here, I did get things accomplished on Sundays, as the long morning was mine to work steadily at a given job, but as Aunt Betty practically get supper every night, she certainly ought not to do more than she now does in helping with the Sunday dinner. And of course every afternoon I have a date with the typewriter, so Sunday is pretty well shot. Dave, with his numerous religious and social activities, doesn’t have time to even wash the dishes, and I haven’t the heart to say anything about it as there is no telling how soon he will be taking the trip up to the Shelton railway station in the early hours of the morning following in the foot-steps of his older brothers.

Today’s letter is filled with the weekly minutiae of daily life on the Home Front. Just Grandpa keeping his boys informed of the weekly happenings in and around Trumbull and the Old Homestead.

Trumbull Conn.

October 24th, 1943

Dear Members of the General Staff:

While you war lords plan we’re next to axe the Axis, we of the WPA at home go about our job of raking leaves, sawing wood, etc., looking to the day when you come home, medals glittering on your manly breasts, and demand the various freedoms which you have fought so valiantly to achieve. Meanwhile, as the seasons roll around, I miss you each in a practical sense. Right now for instance, the wood sawing and chopping sure goes very much more slowly than it did when you axe wielders were around. Today, some of the eight and 10 foot lengths of Locust that were split and piled up on the west side of the barn, yielded grudgingly to my comparative puny efforts. I have let the leaf raking slide entirely, as being of less import than other more essential jobs, but soon must tackle the storm windows. Sunday is the only full day I have to do anything around the house, and that is spoiled by having to spend most of the morning getting dinner. For a while, when Grandma was here, I did get things accomplished on Sundays, as the long morning was mine to work steadily at a given job, but as Aunt Betty practically get supper every night, she certainly ought not to do more than she now does in helping with the Sunday dinner. And of course every afternoon I have a date with the typewriter, so Sunday is pretty well shot. Dave, with his numerous religious and social activities, doesn’t have time to even wash the dishes, and I haven’t the heart to say anything about it as there is no telling how soon he will be taking the trip up to the Shelton railway station in the early hours of the morning following in the foot-steps of his older brothers.

Up to the last moment, I thought the week past would go down in the records as one during which no word from any of my ”furriners” was received, but at the 11th hour, so to speak, I came home from Bridgeport yesterday (Saturday), after tying two folks in the knot of matrimony, to find a special delivery letter from Dan (of late he has been sending V-mail letters which arrived in record time). I don’t mean special delivery. I should have said airmail. Anyway, said letter contained the most generous money order and best birthday wishes. So, here I sit smoking one of the cigars Lad gave me for a gift, holding down papers with the ivory paperweight Ced dispatched from Alaska, and between pauses to try to think of something interesting to write, entertaining visions of all the good things I will supply myself with out of Dan’s largess. In moments of leisure I often wonder, out of all the fathers there are, how many are blessed with the number and quality of sons that have fallen to my lucky lot — each of you so different in personality and yet each with many qualities that make a secret feeling of pride and thankfulness steal softly into my inner consciousness, and when things tend to go wrong, stand as a bulwark to put new courage and purpose into life. And with that thought comes invariably another regarding how proud Mother would also be of her boys. While I promised her I would carry on as best I could with the job of holding the family together and bringing them up as she would like them to be, I realize in all humility that it is not so much me as it is your own innate characteristics, some of which of course you inherited jointly from both of us, but most of which you alone are responsible for. But, shucks, let Papa nurse his little prides  — it won’t do him any harm.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second half of this letter. On Wednesday, a letter from about Marian from Lad to Grandpa with a P.S. from Marian, and on Thursday and Friday, another missive from Grandpa to the whole family.

Judy Guion 

The Beginning (42) – Childhood Memories of Trumbull – The Helen Log Book (7)

Following are the last pages of the Helen Log Book. They recount, briefly, a trip to Fishers Island, off the Connecticut shore near the mouth of the Thames River near Groton and Stonington.

DICK: “We spent a couple of summers on Fishers Island in Long Island Sound with the Burnham’s”.

The Burnham’s were neighbors of Grandpa and Grandma  when they lived on Larchmont Drive. in Mount Vernon.  They had a cottage on Fishers Island.  I suspect that the entire family went to the Burnham’s cottage on Fishers Island, especially since Dick has memories of spending time there.  Grandma would drive with the three younger children and Grandpa and the boys would use the Helen as their mode of transportation.

 

 

 

Trip to Conn.  Camp during 1931 occurs here.

Trip to L.  I.  In 1932 comes next.  Neither were written up.

Fishers Island Trip – Aug. 1933

Sat. – Aug. 5

Commodore not well.  Crew had packed the night before.  Got off to late start at 11:00.  Weather fair – sea not rough.  Had bad motor knock develop before reaching New Haven due to oil loss.  Bilge needed care every couple of hours.  Cut way out to center of Sound. Passed Faulkner’s Island going strong.  Hit bad squall off about Cornfield Point.  Trip not very eventful – night navigation as we approached the Island.  Guns heard from Island.  Turned into West Harbor in high spirits.  Found a light missing but found dock at Burnham’s about 10:20.

Sun. Aug. 6 –

Helen tried to sink, water up to carburetor in morning.

Mon. to Sat. night – spent time trying to repair Helen’s leaks.  Prepared for return trip Sunday.

Sunday – Aug. 13 –

Fog – steady wind from S.W. Helen doesn’t leak badly.  Got off quite late at 12:05.  Cut across close to Connecticut shore, followed it from Pt. to Pt. Sea rather rough.  Fog lifting, wind increasing.  Motor running perfectly.  Waves getting big at Sachem’s Head.  So large that we chugged up one side, slid down other.  If we took them head on we would have been swamped.  Tide now against us.  Finally reaching New Haven but took interminable time in passing it.  Getting dark as we neared Stratford Pt.  Waves going down a bit.  Just inside the Milford breakwater the motor, getting wet, fired only on 2 cylinders, and with tide against us we “trickled” along to arrive at French’s Dock at 10:30, too late to intercept Mr. Burnham who stopped to see if we had yet arrived.

Commodore, well this time, had acquired a most beautiful beer nose, with a two-cheek accompaniment.

This empty envelope (found in the inside cover of the Log Book), addressed to “The GuionClan”, c/o R B Burnham, Box 413, Fishers Island, NY, dated August 8, 1933, leads me to believe that Grandpa might have gone to Fishers Island with the older boys in the Helen, the first weekend, went back to work in Bridgeport (he had his own printing and advertising company) and then returned to join the family for the following weekend and the trip home with the older boys in The Helen.

This is the Return Address from the envelope.

 

The story of the Helen in the Log Book comes to an end.  It sounds to me as though the Helen provided, on at least four occasions, great memories and wonderful bonding time between Grandpa and his three oldest sons.

Ced provides the last chapter of the Helen and the Guion family.

“Arnold Gibson’s father, stepfather actually, was an old seagoing man.  I guess he had been in the Navy.  He had a Sea Scout troop and Dad said, “You know this boat is getting beyond us.  Why don’t we give it to the Sea Scouts and maybe they can get some fun out of it.”  He gave it to them and I don’t know what they did with it.”

My hope is that you have enjoyed reading about the adventures and mis-adventures of Grandpa, Lad, Dan and Ced during the years they owned The Helen.  I believe that memories fade and we may, without realizing it, fill in blank spaces from a different memory.  We continue to retain the new memory and that is the only thing that continues to exist.  Lad, Ced, Dick and Dave all have a few memories of The Helen.  Although each memory does not exactly match the Log Book, which was recorded at the actual time of the event by an adult, the essence of their memories ring true.

Tomorrow, the government of Venezuela joins in the paper chase prior to Lad entering their country as an alien.

On Sunday, more about Marian (Irwin) Guion’s ancestors.

Judy Guion